Sunday, July 22, 2012

22 May 2012: An afternoon at the Observatory Hill

Sydney's Observatory Hill.

22 May 2012 (Tue):

After two servings of breakfast at the Revolver, I took a light rail to Paddy's Market. Then I took a bus to Circular Quay. The initial plan was to head for Watsons Bay on one of the ferries. However, as I was running behind my schedule for the day, I decided to change my plans and visit the Sydney Observatory. This is so as to purchase a ticket to the night visit to the Sydney Observatory.

As I was finding my way to the Sydney Observatory, I recollected the many times when I visited The Rocks as well as the Observatory Hill. Physical spaces have amazing wonders and powers in triggering our memories. When I revisited physical spaces that I had previously visited, I would often feel a sense of reconnection to a moment in the past.

Observatory Hill, Sydney.

When I was at the Observatory Hill, I was welcomed by a group of people who were probably doing some physical fitness training. As I walked past down, I noticed a lady who was enjoying relaxing moments lying on her stomach on the grass with her lovely pet dog. She seemed to be looking affectionately at her pet dog and so was her dog looking affectionately at her. I thought to myself: "How lovely it was to while one's time as if one has no other care in the world?"

Anzac Bridge at the distance. From Observatory Hill.

The sun was bright and the skies were clear that day. I strolled about the Observatory Hill to enjoy the beautiful views from this elevated part of Sydney. The Observatory Hill is one possible place to enjoy a distant view of the Anzac Bridge. It is one fabulous place to catch a lovely view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge too.

Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Observatory Hill.

The people who were visiting the Observatory were very helpful and kind. One kind gentleman helped me to take a photograph of myself with the Observatory in the background. As a tourist in a foreign country, I have found it a tremendous blessing to meet helpful and kind people on my journey. They lent a hand whenever I needed help.
The Sydney Observatory.

When I was at the Sydney Observatory ready to purchase a ticket to the night visit, I was told that there was some minor glitch in the computer system, so I happily did a self-guided visit about the Observatory. Daytime admission for a self-guided visit to the gardens and the Observatory exhibitions is free.

Exhibits related to the transit of Venus.

While viewing the various exhibits, I learnt about the transit of Venus. I learnt that transits of Venus are rare events that occur twice, eight years apart, and then not for over a century. What was particularly interesting to me was that the transits of Venus are of special relevance to Australians. This is because it was James Cook's voyage to Tahiti to observe the 1769 transit of Venus that has led to the European settlement of the continent of Australia. Astronomers of the time of James Cook were interested in the Transits of Venus because careful observations of the transits allowed them to measure the distance of the Earth from the Sun. There seemed much anticipation for the transit of Venus that was to occur on 6 Jun 2012.

Meteorology devices that were on display at the Sydney Observatory.

At the Observatory, I learnt about various astronomy and meteorology devices. Aside from these, at the section that was known as Cadi Eora birrung (under the Sydney Skies), I learnt that the Aboriginal people were very keen in astronomy. They have been keen observers of the southern skies. This section of the exhibition shows constellations in the southern sky and explains how they were perceived from the Aboriginal perspective.

After viewing the exhibits in the Observatory, I felt lucky that I could secure myself a ticket to the night visit on 24 Jun 2012. You would have probably seen my face beaming with joy.

Sydney Observatory. Before 1 p.m. Notice the position of the time ball.

While I was at the Observatory that day, I learnt for the first time in my life that the Sydney Observatory is one of the few places in the world where one can still find a functioning time ball that is used to tell time. It was interesting for me to realize that before radio, the only way to convey accurate time was through signal. This practice of conveying time through the use of the time ball remains in use at the Sydney Observatory. A few minutes before 1 p.m., the time ball would be raised to the top of the mast and dropped at exactly 1 p.m. everyday. Watching the dropping of the time ball is one of the interesting activities that visitors to Sydney Observatory may wish to consider.

In order to view the brief moments of the dropping of the time ball, I decided to wait patiently till 1 p.m. to witness the dropping of the time ball. While waiting, I did a quick sketch at the Observatory Hill.

A quick sketch that I did.

When it was getting close to 1 p.m., many visitors, including myself, gathered outside the Observatory. We witnessed how the time ball was raised to the top of the mast. Soon, it was 1 p.m. The dropping of the time-ball happened pretty fast. Before we knew it, the time ball had dropped to the bottom of the mast. As I watched the time ball dropped from the top of the mast, I tried to visualize how the nearby ships and people in a time in the distant past had relied on the dropping of the time ball to tell the time. Everyone cheered when the time ball was dropped as if we were watching a significant performance.

The time ball was raised to the top of the mast.

The time ball fell.

The time ball dropped to the bottom of the mast at 1 p.m.

The cheers and applause that came with the dropping of the time ball also reminded me that it was time to bid goodbye to the Observatory. I felt thankful for the good weather and the special opportunity to witness a time-keeping activity that dated way back to many decades ago.

Sydney Observatory
Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks.
Tel: 61-2-9921-3485

Nearest train stations: Circular Quay and Wynyard.

Please click here for directions on how to get there:

Online articles that are related:
Panoramic earth: Sydney Observatory.
Time ball at Sydney Observatory, 1858.

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EastCoastLife said...

The dropping of the time ball sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing that moment.

For one who dislikes shopping and eating, this will be an interesting place to spend time learning about another country's culture.

oceanskies79 said...

Yes, indeed, this is an interesting place to just rest and relax.